Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

World-Wide Communion Sunday – 10/6/19

1 Corinthians 11:24

and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amThis Sunday is World-Wide Communion Sunday. What that means is that most – if not all-Christian churches around the world – will celebrate communion on that given Sunday – the first Sunday of October – no matter their traditions – in a sense of ecumenical connection. It is always a special Sunday – remembering Christ – His life – His death – and His resurrection – with other Christians. I always enjoy celebrating Holy Communion – the Eucharist – or the Lord’s Supper – it goes by many names in different traditions.

As some of our readers know – I am at a season of life and ministry – when I’m not sure when I will be celebrating my last special day in a given year. Will this be my last World-Wide Communion Sunday – as a lead pastor? Will it be my last Advent – Christmas – Lent – Easter – Pentecost – and so on. Will I retire this year or next or the following or when? Will I be with Jesus – eternally – before the next season arrives? Yes – I do think about such things.

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October 4, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deny Self and Follow Christ

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Life ChangeLent is almost over for 2019. We have a special Seder meal tomorrow night. I hope you signed up. Hope to see you there. We have our Good Friday service Friday at 7 pm. We will continue our walk toward the cross with John’s gospel. Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary – is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ. 

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Week – Let’s Focus on Jesus

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Life ChangeYesterday – Palm Sunday – we began Holy Week. This is the week before Jesus’ crucifixion. Thursday will be Holy or Maundy Thursday. We will remember the Lord’s Supper this year with a Seder Meal. It will be a powerful experience and we hope all who signed up to attend will indeed be able to attend.

Friday – this week – is Good Friday. As a young child I couldn’t figure out why it was called Good Friday if it was the day that Jesus died. Later I realized that it was called Good Friday because it was good for us that He died – to pay for our sins. We will have a service at 7 pm in the Sanctuary as we continue our walk to the cross with John’s Gospel account. It is very important that we all attend the Good Friday service. Change your plans to be here – if you weren’t planning to attend. Sunday – Easter morning – will not have the same meaning without attending worship on Good Friday. I promise you! Let’s set our minds on Jesus – and see what will happen. Continue reading

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walking Toward the Cross

Isaiah 49:1

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.

Life ChangeLent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny self – to dig deeper into our walk with Jesus. Today we look at a passage that will lead us to the cross and to the resurrection. Let us focus on Jesus this week – more than usual – the cross is near. Let us identify with the walk and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. Jesus came to earth – voluntarily – to walk to the cross. Can we imagine how we would face our last weeks on earth? How we would face our death – when we had the power to avoid it?

What has changed in your walk with Jesus during Lent this year? A load of folks have walked together reading the book – The Case for Easter – and yesterday they talked about some of the change that are taking place this Lenten season for them. Lee Strobel has crafted his book to challenge and prove the life – death and resurrection of our Lord. Continue reading

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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